The A. A. Bochvar High-Technology Research Institute of Non-Organic Materials (part of Fuel Company of ROSATOM TVEL) has set up a working group for development of a pilot 3D-printing technology for end pieces of fuel assemblies (FAs). This decision has been made following the scientific and technical board (STB) meeting where representatives of the management company JSC TVEL took part along with sectoral specialists from VNIINM, MSZ, NCCP, SPA Centrotech, TsNIITMASH, OKB Gidropress, OKBM and other ROSATOM’s companies.
“We plan to use opportunities of additive technologies in nuclear to produce component parts for FAs of all types. Firstly, these are end pieces: top nozzle, bottom nozzle, support grid, anti-debris filter. They are rather difficult to manufacture by current methods and the use of 3D-printing will allow getting items of unique design,” Leonid Karpyuk, Director of VNIINM, assessed the decision made.
At that, the STB members indicated the problems of implementation of the 3D-printing in the industry such as the requirement for homogeneous microstructure and mechanical properties, conformance of item with the specifications for the design, minimization of porosity, development of methods for item metal property evaluation given the features of the 3D-printing, and justification of the reactor grade of products. Specialists of Fuel Company of ROSATOM TVEL are to solve these problems as part of the innovative project.
The scientists’ activities will rest on competences in this field already available to VNIINM. In particular, the institute’s employees, when creating powders for additive technologies by the centrifugal spraying technology, have managed to meet all necessary requirements (spherical shape of particles, size within the range of 10-80 µm, absence of oxide films and other soiling of the powder surface, full identity of particles in chemical composition, absence of gas porosity) for this product and exceeded foreign analogs in many respects.